Thursday, March 15, 2007

Technology in the car

UPDATE 9-9-2007: The old car, 95 (the Falcon) is retired, and so is my laptop mount. I'm riding without much technology in the new car right now.

Note: my laptop screen is always closed while driving unless I'm using GPS.

Since the beginning (April 2005) I have used a Compaq Presario 2200 with a 1.3 GHz mobile processor and 512MB RAM in the car. I made a mount for it with a $40 center console and another $40 in plastic sheeting and miscellaneous hardware.

UPDATE 6-17-2007: I now have an HP dv6365 laptop, 1.85GHz Intel Core Duo T5600 with 2GB RAM and Vista. More info on the new setup can be found here.

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Access

Access database that tracks all fares with to/from, date, time, fare, and whether it was a flag or bell. It was my first time using Access, and considering there is only one table, it was easy. I wrote a few basic queries, like daily income, monthly income, annual income, etc. Many more are in the works.

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GPS

GPS navigation with Microsoft Streets & Trips. I purchased S&T as a package with the GPS receiver, which plugs into the laptop via USB. It was about $110 at Best Buy. It acts like an in-dash GPS system, with a car icon on the map, and voice directions. Every address in the U.S. and Canada is included, and there is a library of hotels and places of interest. The S&T interface includes a compass and speedometer.

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GPS receiver sits on dash

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Internet

Internet with cellular (EVDO) service. I use a PC card for a dedicated, unlimited internet connection anywhere I go -- service is $60 per month. It's the perfect complement to GPS. For instance, if a customer inquires about a sushi restaurant in a certain area, I can check the web, and if there is one, click on "map", or dump the address into Streets & Trips. I also use my cell phone to make reservations for customers. This is a customer service business, after all. Not all cabbies are surly bastards who learned to drive in Cairo and prefer grunting to the Queen's English.

I also surf the web for entertainment during slow times, including updating this blog. Like a lot of people, I touch on dozens of newspapers and news sources, worldwide, every week. The main ones I hit every day are BBC, Google News, Yahoo News, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. I also enjoy reading blogs, magazines and tech sites.

Games, like Sim City IV

Music

A laptop is the ultimate iPod. I connect the audio-out jack to the auxiliary jack on the front of a recently purchased Kenwood deck. This is vastly superior to an FM transmitter, which I used for a while. I have a lot of MP3s sitting on an external hard drive at home, and I transfer files to the laptop via USB. Also, I have a flash drive for transfers. Flash is good to swap music and video files among drivers, too -- several other drivers got laptops after seeing my setup.

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Card reader and flash drive -- uses SD cards from my camera

Movies

DVDs and downloaded movies, and recorded TV shows. I rent DVDs, and check them out from libraries, and I use a movie download service, Movielink, for renting movies directly onto the hard drive. At home I have a USB TV-in box, which lets me record cable TV shows to the HD; I watch them the following day while sitting on cab stands. Audio runs through the car stereo, just like the music.

Photography

I keep a 5mp, 12x opti-zoom digital camera with me in the car. I transfer photos directly to the laptop, and use Photoshop to edit.

4 comments:

Jimmy Hart said...

Hi Ted, I just kind of stumbled across your blog on the internet tonight. (Queens english, please note!)Two things, Ia m a cab driver in Lincoln, England. And I visited San Diego in March this year. We stayed in the navy lodge on the naval base over there, because we were with friends who are in the US marines who were in England on exchange. They now live in 29 Palms out in the desert. we had a great time in SD, and plan to visit next year, when my buddy moves to Coronado. One of your photos on 6th, I can remember seeing, we visited a place called "Hash house a go go" for brunch terrific, we thought. Indiana cuisine!!!! English beer, too!! "Old Speckled Hen" try it. By the way, I run around with a laptop pres 2000. internet access and all too. And stop whining about the price of petrol (GAS) OURSIS $8:00 A GALLON AND RISING!!

Ted Martin said...

Jimmy,

It's nice to hear from you. I've been to the Navy Lodge Coronado (at the North Island NAS) many times. Small world!

I've heard of the hash house, but haven't tried it yet.

I know we have cheap gas, but it has doubled in six years, which is downright criminal!

You should start a blog. With your technology, it's a snap.

Mary Chapman said...

Ted,

Hi, I'm Mary Chapman, a writer who has been doing a lot of work lately for the New York Times (feel free to google Mary M. Chapman). Doing a piece now for them on what cabbies do between fares, and would love to talk with you about your laptop. Would you please email me at mmchap622@aol.com, or phone 313-963-9863?
Would truly appreciate it!
Thanks,
Mary

Anonymous said...

Hi Ted,
Thanks for your blog. I'm just about to begin driving for the first time, OC, CA and was wondering what newbys might earn in your area. Not really thinking about relocating but trying to get a sense of whats realistic in the business.
Thanks Ted
Frank Potts fwpotts@yahoo.com